Life Is Short…Eat Ice Cream!

Ice Cream or Gelato? Why not both?!

Yummy Vanilla Nut Crunch can be found here.

And two Strawberry Ice Cream recipes here.

I have also made plenty of gelatos. It is definitely one of my favorite styles of ice cream. Smooth, creamy and not as heavy as many full cream styles.

Pictured above, Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato – one of my favorites. Recipe here.

Gelato starts with a good base that you can then add any number of flavors to: Continue reading

Summer Slaw

DSC_8194 (1600x1060)We swung by the supermarket deli to pick up some of their fried chicken and a couple of sides – we had been shopping garden centers and were getting hungry with nothing quick to eat in the fridge.  We really didn’t want to go to a burger joint or the Chinese buffet.  Mrs J picked a pair of cold salads while I grabbed a box of chicken.  She opted for a mustard potato salad and something that was labeled as “summer slaw”.

The summer slaw was pretty good, we looked online for a copycat recipe but didn’t find anything that looked close.  It had tomato bits, cabbage, and  green bits that were sliced green onion tops and something else – green bell pepper or maybe cucumber with the skin on.  We went with “both”.  The dressing was thin and white and put me in mind of the dressing I use for the copycat KFC slaw dressing.

I whisked a dollop of mayo with buttermilk and rice vinegar, added Splenda to taste, and celery salt with ground white pepper.  It may not be what the deli used in theirs but it came out pretty good!

Summer Slaw

one small head of cabbage, shredded fine

half of an English cucumber, minced

1/4 cup of minced green bell pepper

two small tomatoes, seeded and chopped small

a small bunch of green onions, thinly sliced tops only

Dressing*

1/4 – 1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup rice vinegar dressing (the flavored stuff)

sugar (Splenda) – go with 1/8 -1/4 cup

celery salt and white pepper to taste

* Just guessing after the fact on the dressing quantities.

Happy First Day of Summer

Ice, Ice Kitty

Ice, Ice Kitty

I shamelessly went over to my friend’s Facebook page and snagged some of her garden photos. She has the prettiest irises ever. Above is her kitty, Ice, relaxing in the grasses.

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This is one of her pretty iris, its called “Stairway to Heaven”  Click here for a slideshow of many of her designer iris.

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And a pretty butterfly.

Now go out and enjoy the day. Cheddar-Jalapeno stuffed hamburgers for tonight’s recipe exchange. Until then….

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Black Bean and Cheddar Burgers

Originally published 08/25/12:

Now for something completely different to grill.  I love black bean burgers, but the frozen ones can leave a lot to be desired.  So I’ve been looking around for a good recipe.  I found this one, but cannot tell you where, sorry to say.  I’ve changed up few things, made it a bit spicier and a bit moister.  Grill or fry on medium heat to keep the burgers from drying out.  Makes 4 good sized burgers, though you may want to double the recipe to serve 4-6 people.

Black Bean and Cheddar Burgers

  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (about 1-1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs* soaked in 1 to 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped, pickled jalapeno
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsps minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Serve with:

  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Tomato and avocado slices for garnish

In a mixing bowl, with a potato masher, mash half of beans into coarse puree; add remaining ingredients.  Work mixture together by hand until it holds together easily. Shape mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Oil a large piece of aluminum foil, place on a grill set to medium heat and place burgers on the foil. Cook for about 8 minutes per side or until browned on outside and heated through to center. Serve on buns, topped with tomato and avocado.

You can also fry these on medium heat in a covered, well oiled skillet.

*for gluten free, use quick oats instead.

Week one of burger week…

Monsoon Season

Monsoon season started earlier last week. It brings with it afternoon showers, which was welcome after a month of fires. By the end of this weekend we’d had many afternoons of rain and three days of good soaking rain. The fires are under control, though the danger is still heightened after a dry winter and spring. We’ve cooled down considerably and cooking seems possible again.  I’m going to make a trip to the farm stand to see what looks good and do something fun. Maybe new potatoes. Until then…

Pretty green leaves.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Vegetarian Delights

Cross posted at Balloon-Juice

I’m travelling, en route to San Diego, so you’re on your own – no keggers and try not to riot. Tonight we’re going vegetarian with two recipes. I’m often asked for vegetarian recipes, so I’m always on the lookout for good ones, can’t wait to see what you guys come up with. Next week: Fruit Desserts

I love black bean burgers, but the frozen ones can leave a lot to be desired.  So I’ve been looking around for a good recipe.  I found this one, but cannot tell you where, sorry to say. I’ve changed up few things, made it a bit spicier and a bit moister.  Grill or fry on medium heat to keep the burgers from drying out.  Makes 4 good sized burgers, though you may want to double the recipe to serve 6-8 people.

Black Bean and Cheddar Burgers

  • 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained, or dry equivalent
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded (about 1-1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs soaked in 1 to 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped, pickled jalapeno
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsps minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Serve with:

  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Tomato and avocado slices for garnish

In a mixing bowl, with a potato masher, mash half of beans into coarse puree; add remaining ingredients.  Work mixture together by hand until it holds together easily. Shape mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Oil a large piece of aluminum foil, place on a grill set to medium heat and place burgers on the foil. You can also fry these on medium heat in a covered, well oiled skillet.  Cook for about 8 minutes per side or until browned on outside and heated through to center. Serve on buns, topped with tomato and avocado.

The pasta caprese has appeared here before.  I make it both vegetarian and gluten free, so it’s my go-to recipe for company.  From one of our Thursday Night Menus (link includes my favorite chocolate cake):

Pasta Caprese

  • 9 oz dry pasta
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 oz cubed mozzarella
  • salt & pepper to taste

saucepan and large serving dish

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While it’s cooking, mix remaining ingredients together. Drain pasta completely (dab with paper towels, if necessary) then add to tomato mixture. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors blend. Serve warm or you can refrigerate and serve cold. Add a nice loaf of bread for a complete dinner.

I use a fairly expensive mozzarella for this dish because it’s softer, tastier and absorbs more flavors. Any locally produced mozzarella would work. Also, my local farmers’ market has a pasta vendor, who hand-makes many flavors of pasta. This dish works very well with flavored pastas – fire roasted chili, lemon pepper, tomato basil, red bell pepper – the list goes on. You can also change-up the cheese to a Queso Blanco (again, use a fairly expensive or locally produced one), use cilantro instead of basil and use a chili flavored pasta for a whole new dish. The possibilities are endless.

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer by Alton Gunn

I got a call last week from a friend Lari, who said her husband Al, had just made most amazing drink and I should try it.  Send me the recipe and a photo and I’ll post I said.  So here it is.  I think throughout the summer I’ll post some unusual drink combinations.  But will start with this.  The recipe is from Simply Recipes and the photo is from my friend Alton Gunn.  I guess he also made an awesome Strawberry-Rhubarb pie, too.  Go Al!

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer

  • 1 pound rhubarb, cleaned, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Soda water or carbonated water

Put rhubarb pieces, water, sugar, and rosemary leaves into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Rhubarb pieces will disintegrate.  Remove from heat. Strain out the solids with a fine mesh strainer. Add lemon juice. If too sweet for taste, add a little more lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve.  To serve, fill a quarter to a half of the glass with the lemon, rhubarb, rosemary syrup, and the rest with soda water.

Makes about 3 cups of syrup, and 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of spritzer.

Spring Training and the Garden

Once again, the first signs of summer have arrived.  Baseball spring training and garden catalogues.  I love summer.  I love baseball.  I LOVE gardening.  I’m an optimistic and lazy gardener.  I start early, before the last frost.  I prefer raised beds, so I can prep the soil with a deep layer of good organic material.  If I can’t wait and plant early, I use various measures to protect seedlings from frost, most involve plastic and water.  Most importantly I mulch heavily and continue to mulch over the growing season.  This is where the lazy part comes in.  The rest of the season I water minimally and rarely weed.  I figure I give my plants a good healthy start and then it’s up to them to thrive!

The anticipation of a garden harvest is joy.  Nothing tastes better than foods made with fresh garden ingredients.  Salsas are magnificent with garden tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, jalapenos and maybe some tomatillos.   Salads are full of flavor with greens freshly cut, tiny cucumbers, sweet peppers and whatever else I might be inspired to plant.  Fresh peas and pole beans, anything you buy in the store pales in comparison.  And at the end of the season, when tomatoes are abundant, I cook, puree and freeze the bounty to tide me over until about…. January.  This is why February finds me longing to start my garden NOW!

I come by it naturally.  My dad plants enough garden vegetables to feed most of the neighborhood and my mom comes up with fabulous ways to use them.  And who do you think  taught me how to extend that great flavor through winter?!  And nothing beats my mom’s cucumber, tomato, onion salad.   A summer favorite.

So if you’ve never gardened before, why not try it this summer?  Start small.  Get two large containers.  In one, plant a variety of lettuces, in the other a tomato plant, I suggest Early Girl for beginners.  Buy a healthy tomato seedling for greatest success your first time out.  There’s a new item out that I’ve been wanting to try, it’s an upside down tomato planter, this may be the summer I do.  Most garden catalogues carry them now.

Okay, with that, I’ll dig through my recipes and find something appropriate February.  It won’t be as exciting as fresh summer salsa, but it’ll be tasty.  Until then…